Families in fear after Norwich apartment block fails cladding tests after Grenfell Tower disaster
Families living in a Norwich apartment block have told of their fear after they discovered it had failed fire cladding safety tests following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Broadland Housing’s Brennan Bank on Geoffrey Watling Way is one of 60 high and mid-rise buildings across 25 local authority areas in England that the government said has failed safety tests in the wake of the tragedy, which has claimed the lives of at least 79 people.
But other blocks in the city might also be affected, after it emerged developer Taylor Wimpey has provided the same safety advice to residents of its private apartments in neighbouring buildings which are constructed the same.
Craig Bamber, 27, and his wife Susan, 24, said they were shocked. He said: “We’ve lived here three years and to be honest I feel unsafe. I just want to move out and get somewhere safe for me and my wife to live.
“It shouldn’t be playing on our minds and it is. It’s something we don’t want to be thinking about - it’s too much of a worry.”
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Mr Bamber said it was even more of a worry that they might not have known about this had it not been for the Grenfell tragedy.
Other tenants who spoke about their fears included Joe Phiri, 27, who lives two floors from the top of the block with his partner Kelly Brandish, 25, and 14-month-old daughter Kiesha. He said: “Its a bit scary obviously looking at what happened in London.
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“We were hoping to move out for different reasons because of the parking but regarding this, we just don’t know if it’s going to be a risk to stay here. I just hope they sort it out quickly because we don’t want to be the next one.”
Kelly said: “It’s quite frightening. If that fire [Grenfell] didn’t happen what could’ve happened to us? It’s just a bit scary really.”
Dale Haskell, 23, who lives in the block with his pregnant partner and one-year-old child, said: “I’m really worried because you hear about it on the news and you’e seeing people throwing babies off the block and it’s the last thing you want to be doing and just because they haven’t done the right checks.”
One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “It scares us. That’s not good. We live on the top floor.
“It scares us because we know what happens.”
Another woman, who did not want to be named, was returning to her flat to pick up some stuff before staying at a friends house.
She said: “I’m staying at a friend’s. I don’t feel safe.”
In a statement on its website, Broadland Housing said although a sample of cladding from Brennan Bank was found to be a current cause for concern in high-rise buildings, it complies with building regulations and has been used in accordance with the approved plans. They said a review meeting concluded that
the risks posed by the cladding can be mitigated by remedial action in the short-term which has been outlined to tenants in a letter.
Louise Archer, executive property director for Broadland Housing, said: “Although we don’t have any high-rise properties, only medium-rise, we wanted to put additional measures in place to reassure our tenants.”
A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said: ““Following a review of the fire safety of the cladding at our NR1 development in Norwich and testing carried out by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), we were made aware of a potential cause for concern. The safety of residents is our number one priority. We took immediate and expert advice from Norfolk Fire and Rescue and Norwich City Council who have reassured us that it is safe for residents to remain in their homes, based on the building design and robust fire safety procedures already in place.
“We have written to all residents on the development to advise them of the situation and to provide reassurance on the fire safety procedures on site. Based on the above advice, we have also advised residents of some additional interim procedures that have been put in place as a precautionary measure.”
Broadland Housing had complied with a request from
the Department of Local Government and Communities (DCLG) for all councils and housing associations to submit information about any buildings of six storeys and above that they own or manage.
Hundreds more blocks are yet to be tested, with the DCLG estimating that around 600 residential tower blocks nationally are fitted with cladding.